Monday, May 5, 2008

Standard and Poor's Statistical Service

This is a subscription service costing $1480 per year (for 2008) with three components:

Current Statistics: This contains a complete 12 month record of the daily high, low and close of S&P stock price indices, plus a 12 month record of weekly indices of several Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) industry groups such as banking and finance, production and labor, building, electric power and fuels, etc. These should come out once per month, but they are behind--the latest is 10/07, which we received in mid-February (a call to customer service confirmed that this is indeed the latest and they are indeed behind). Of concern is the fact that some of the stats are not up-to-date, for example, the Prime Rate charged by banks (p. 4 of the yellow) is only listed through 1/31/05, and I was able to find later data on the Federal Reserve web page. Also of concern is the fact that the index on page 2 does not always show the correct page numbers.

Basic Statistics: These give historical statistics for the same GICS categories as the Current Statistics section. This is the weakest part of the subscription. These are updated rarely, and some are as old as 1994. A call to customer service indicated that no updates are forthcoming in the near future. This makes for gaps in data. For example "Gross Domestic Product, National Income, and Personal Income" on page 7 of Current Statistics covers data for 2005 and 2006. It refers the user to pages 97-101 of the Basic Statistics which gives data for 1946-1994. There is no way to get the intervening years (the call to customer service also confirmed this).

Security Price Index Record: This comes out biennially and traces the movement of stock and bond prices by GICS industry group. The data goes back to 1941. I was not able to find this data on the web, however, a spot check of a number of the tables included in Current Statistics revealed that a fair amount of this data is available on the web.

If you have not used this in a while (as I hadn't), take some time to reacquaint yourself with it, and let me know if you think it is worth the price. How much of this can we get on the web? Do we have enough demand for the data that isn't? It might be possible to get it every other year (the year Security Price Index Record comes out).


Cynthia said...

For industry group index movement, Dow Jones has data on their indexes which is available free on-line.

This is a good source, but only as good as it is up to date. I would guess that 90% of it can be found for free on the Internet, or via our subscription to Factiva (maybe even 100%--I can look if you feel I should).

mlh said...

Looking at this brought back memories of when I did use it often. Not in recent history! I would say it can go.

Kristin said...

My vote is to let it go.

Catherine Harper said...

If there was ever a source that has outlived its usefulness, this is it. The Basic Statistics have been readily available on the web for some time, mostly on government sites, but also sites like What’s more, the time series on the web often cover more years and are more up to date. Using, Statistical Abstract, and FedStats, and Google, we should be able to get most, if not all, of this information without having to spend a penny.

The exception is the S&P stock price index data. But I can’t remember the last time anyone asked me for these statistics. Economics researchers (those most likely to need these time series) should be able to access them through sources at their school libraries. In fact, their school libraries will probably have similar data for several indexes, not just S&P’s.

If I’d had any idea this service cost more than a few hundred dollars, I would have recommended our dropping it long ago.

Elba said...

I agree that almost all the data can be found up-to-date and on the Internet for free.

Romina said...

As others have noted this information is readily available for free on the web. The fact that the "current statistics" are over half a year old and there is no sign of a new publication covering these months arriving any time soon, is of concern. Probably won't be missed if we didn't have it.

JiHae said...

Farewell, S&P Statistical Service. I barely knew thee.

Janie L. Hermann said...

At this point (based upon previous commentary) I believe I can officially keep my comments to a brief single word:


Jane said...

A unanimous gong. The subscription will not be renewed.